Making Time

In a recent edition of

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The Times, the columnist Robert Crampton, wrote an article based on a recent study which had suggested that in order to sustain ‘good health’, guys should meet up with their closest friends at least once a week.

This, inevitably, threw up the question of Time – or rather the shortage of.

I’ve always found Time an elusive subject, one which never receives a satisfactory explanation. Truth is, I don’t understand where ‘yesterday’ goes.

Is it ‘over’ because it has somehow evaporated (say), or is it one of those things that’s only over for me – the reason being the way I’m constructed which only allows me to ‘live’ one bit at a time, thus going under the name ‘Today.’

In other words, it isn’t that ‘Yesterday’ no longer exists; it does – somewhere – but I don’t have the equipment to ‘live it’ anymore; its continued existence is now, for me, only as a memory.

But ….. to return to The Times article, it set me wondering how much the ‘no time’ re-action is merely an excuse – that Time is actually a reflection of our Will Power. If I want something badly enough – enough to get my Will into gear to have it – then chances are there’s a much greater likelihood that I’ll obtain it. Whether I’m able to ‘find’ the Time is therefore dependent on my Will.

A regular feature in most lives of Achievement is the power the achiever has over his Time. The guy gets up at dawn, has a piss, feeds the dogs, then hits the objective in hand. His day is carved up Timewise as a reflection of his Will.

And maybe Caring comes into this. Things didn’t get done, not because he couldn’t ‘find the Time’, but because he didn’t Care enough to get his Will Power in gear.

There’s a section in the ‘What Men Do’ Guide entitled ‘Piss Or Get Off The Pot’ which keeps coming into my mind as I write. Maybe we don’t need Will Power to take a piss ….. or maybe we do but it happens so often we don’t think of it that way. “Do I want to take a piss or would I prefer to get wet in the groin region?”

Habit seems to be largely in control here as all guys know the experience of ‘I don’t have Time right now’, only to learn to live to regret it. Creating Time, we learn, isn’t an option

But meeting up with our mates is an option, and if we want it badly enough, our Will ‘finds’ the means with which to do it.

Methinks if we allow ourselves to go along with all this Time bollocks, we actually ‘Live’ for much less Time than we could have.

Life’s a Struggle – Right?

I swear, since my two writing colleagues asked me to write a blog on Struggle, it’s been one hassle after another …

…. but then, one of the elements inherent in becoming an Adult which we’ve stressed pretty heavily in the ‘What Men Do’ Guide is the importance of Struggle.

We reckon, not only is Struggle desirable, but that it’s vital.

It’s vital because it creates the raison d’etre for the ‘Will to Live’ – one of the two major dictums of a purposeful life as claimed by the German philosopher, Albert Schweitzer. (The other is having a ‘Reverence for Life’.)

It follows, of course, that ‘Struggle’ is a good thing, as without it, Life becomes increasingly meaningless and a hum-drum condition. (I can’t take a daily visit to the betting shop as a part of life seriously – ‘my problem’ I realise.)

Actually, it scares me – the idea that I might reach a point when I’ve no reason to get out of bed each morning – except to take a piss. And then what?

Fortunately, as I work for a charity where finance is a constant hassle, the daily Struggle for one thing or another is relentless.

As a way of easing the regular tensions that build up, the way the place is organised is pretty loose. As a result, when I suddenly become aware that my current Struggle is greater than the determination of my balls to stick with it, I use that as the reason to quit for the day. I fear that I’m becoming a wimp, so before Self Pity and a lack of Self Respect creep into the equation, I go home.

Being one of the writers of the ‘What Men Do’ Guide, it’s difficult to write asserting the virtues of Struggle …..  and then discover oneself chickening-out form a challenge. I experience a sense of something despicable – the kind of thing one suspects politicians do constantly, totally oblivious to how we despise most of ’em.

I’m never going to be a Hero … and that’s a condition I’m happy to settle-for; what I’m desperate to avoid, though, is that anyone might conclude that I’m a phoney.

And maybe that’s the basic source of my own very personal Struggle – the incessant need to convince those I’m close to that I’m a solid guy who you can trust and who’ll make a genuine effort to understand when you come to me to talk about your own Struggle(s).

And I find it almost laughable that, the moment I’m finally on top of my current Struggle, blow me, another one appears crying out for a solution.

It’s crossed my mind (more than once) that this new Struggle is actually my fault … that it’s appearance is somehow connected to my natural curiosity.

But that’s another story……

Growing Pains

I’m fast approaching 30 and even faster letting go of the miniscule, one-in-a-billion, ‘but maybe’, wish-upon-a-star chance

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that my name will one day be on the back of an England shirt, chanted by euphoric fans, and screamed by countless wannabe WAGS…

Gone too are the dreams of being picked up on the high street by a fashion scout, whisked in a private jet to New York to sign million dollar deals to be the face (and body) of the next smelly that sends women weak at the knees.

And I don’t have the stomach for porn (yes, stomach). So without my body available to take care of all my needs… it looks like it’s up to the rest of me.

I’m lucky that I have a great job. It’s enjoyable, challenging and engaging. The trouble is, there are a lot of people that want it. I’ve seen them, and don’t tell me I’m paranoid. They’re all around me. They come in under the delusive titles of Intern and Junior…

They’re there when I arrive at work… and they’re still there when I leave. They are putting in a shift – a serious shift – to get their hands on my job. ‘My job’ is the wrong way of looking at it, it’s ‘a position’ that I occupy… for now.

So with these young gunslingers honing their talents and taking aim, it’s up to us to stay one step ahead. If we’re going to last (I’m talking to my body and me) we can’t sit back and relax. We must keep growing.

No one else is going to nourish our mind with all it needs to develop. I have to read and see new things to make sure nothing goes stale. My radar needs to be on, sensing what’s coming, where is the best place to dig for water. It’s a constant quest to stay fresh and become bigger.

The truth is, without growth I become utterly frustrated and miserable. Everyday I want to get broader and go deeper. And I’m not just saying that to ward off the young bucks nipping at my heels. I don’t even think about them, they’re just a good way in to talk about the perpetual need for growth. It’s not an external pressure, like the fear of obsolescence and thus having to read up on the latest technology, it’s an innate, internal drive to be bigger.

It’s What Men Do.

Handling the Future of the Race

One of my mates (who’s the same age as me) says he’s come to the conclusion that guys never stop wanking. It’s something they feel compelled to do when the need arises and the ideal solution to their sudden itching isn’t available.

I’m not sure how he reached this conclusion, but it’s certainly in line with my own feelings (as well as my own experience).

I was thinking about it this lunchtime when I was frying myself an egg sarnie. I suddenly got the urge for some action down there, but with the frying pan in one hand and the spatula in the other I thought, well, I’ll have to live with it.

It’s tea-time now and, as I’ll be home alone for the next 48 hours, the deed is done. A temporary calm has currently returned.

Having a wank can be a tricky subject for me to discuss as part of my work involves teaching teenagers, mainly lads, and it’s interesting to observe how they change when, as becomes pretty obvious, you recognise that their virginity has now been replaced by the recent experience of ‘the real thing’.

God knows how ghastly this performance actually was, but that’s of minor consequence; the point is, the stiffy stayed resolute right up to the sticky liquid making its appearance. The essential point is that it happened and subsequently, another illusion was shattered.

‘Having it away’ isn’t going to change a young guy from ‘boy’ to ‘man’ – far from it. What’s important though – especially for the lads who, to that point, have seen a shag as a major element within their maturity – is that Mother Nature has had her way. There is renewed hope for the species homo sapien!

It’s fascinating to me how powerful are the promptings of Mother Nature … and how instantly and deeply felt is any reference to your knob. It inclines you to become aware of instinct, and its power. The thinking of the brain and the collection of erudite knowledge which might ultimately

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lead you to a Professorship – even a Nobel Prize – are no competition for the satisfying warmth which you get from having performed a great shag.

OK, when it’s over you probably want a cigarette, drink (and the taxi fare home?), but wherever you are, the aftermath of self confidence which first lingers between your legs and then swells up into the rest of your body, including the heart, is quite incomparable to anything else.

And if you’re capable of digging deep and in touch with your power to Sense, you realise that if there is such a thing as Life having Meaning well, the fact that you’ve the power to help continue the process of Life-Giving provides an inexplicable awareness of purpose.

Forgive me if my mind is beginning to wander; I realise it’s a far cry from having a wank to perpetuating the human species.

Still, it’s nice to know that if push came to shove, the future of mankind is nestled right in your hand.


Football’s Suicide Secret

There was an article in a recent issue of the Times relating to the response to Clarke Carlisle’s documentary “Football’s Suicide Secret”, which was aired in August.

The article revealed that, since the programmed aired, five Premier League footballers have sought help to deal with ‘depressive or suicidal thoughts’, and around thirty professional footballers have been in contact with Carlisle – it doesn’t say the reason for their contact but I think it’s safe to assume it was due to their being affected by his programme.

In his autobiography, published recently, Carlisle also reveals the extent to which he has suffered from depression, struggled with alcohol and attempted to take his own life.

So it would seem that professional football is nearing a crisis point when it comes to mental health. And to be honest, I’m not surprised.

In the article, Carlisle gives the opinion (I think taken from his book) that this situation is due to the fact that players are unprepared to seek alternative careers once their time in the game is over. This certainly goes some way to explain the situation, as all roles in sport are a ticking time bomb as injury or simply age – the average age for retirement in football is 35 – can finish a career early in comparison to most other professions.

However, I don’t think this is the main problem. Carlisle also says that “parts of being a footballer are incredibly glamorous. The amounts of money earned at the top end of the game, the sense of success, the commercials…”, and therein, to me, lies the issue.

Successful professional footballers are dropped in to a world of stuff – the measure of a player always seems (in the media at least) to be based on how much they earn or are worth. So you’ve trained for however many years to reach the peak of your game and are told you are worth £80 million, are given a healthy £300,000 a week and yet you’re still not happy.

Well of course not. Anything which is measured in monetary terms is doomed to a reality which is bottomless.

The realisation that obtaining vast amounts of stuff is not life’s purpose must hit these guys like the Titanic. And, if we use the seven year cycle idea favoured in the What Men Do Guide, this realisation will most likely come around age 28 – when the end of their career is already looming and, as in many guys of that age, they’ve only just fully realised that they’re now an adult.

When looked at in this way, it’s no surprise that depression is a major issue in professional football. The closed nature of the game – by which I mean the lack of freedom to talk about anything that might make one seem in any way “unmanly” (whatever that means) – only exasperates the problem (although, by Carlisle’s speaking out, depression is already ahead of homosexuality).

So what’s the solution? The same

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as depression elsewhere … fuck knows.

But surely a starting point is to heap a good dollop of Reality in to the game so that, once the glitter stops pouring in, footballers aren’t put in a position where they feel their Purpose has been stripped from them.

Football is just a game. And like any game, these guys need to embrace life outside of it.

And it may also help them to realise that, while they may be a Superman on the pitch, it’s ok to be a regular Clark Kent when they’re off it.